Russian Proton-M Rocket Fails To Launch

The latest in a series of failures for the Russian space program, the unmanned Proton-M rocket carrying a Mexican telecommunications satellite failed to launch from the Baikonur launch pad in Kazakhstan on Saturday and crashed somewhere. The failure is contributed to a steering engine malfunction when it was around 100 miles above Earth, about eight minutes into its flight. The debris has either landed in Siberia or been burned up in the atmosphere. International Launch Services, a Russian-American satellite carrier company, utilizes the Proton rockets as their mainstay transporter.


Failed rocket launches are nothing new for Russia. This is the sixth rocket launch failure for Russia in 3 and a half years and while there have have been many successful flights during that time, such a number is cause for concern. The most recent failure occured in late April when a Russian cargo ship intended to deliver supplies to the International Space Station failed to dock, sending it into an uncontrollable spin,having been caused by a leak in the fuel tank. This failure resulted in a delay of landing some of the space station crew until June and the launch of a replacement crew has been delayed until late July. Why all these failures?  Experts say its because of a brain drain a decrease in engineering and quality standards, as well as internal complications due to leadership shifts.


Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has ordered a commission to determine the cause of the failed rocket launch. International Launch Services has announced a separate investigation into what happened. A search for debris has also been initiated but none has been found yet. Industry sources say that the rocket launch failure could signal the suspension of all future Proton-M launches, the next one scheduled in June carrying a British satellite. Having lost $390 million from the destroyed satellite and failed launch, Mexico laments Russia’s failure but plans on launching another satellite from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

View more photos here